Fintech Miconex has launched a new Spend It campaign across its Yorkshire Town and City Gift Card programmes, in Barnsley, Sheffield, Harrogate, Scarborough, York and Halifax, encouraging consumers to get out and spend their existing local gift cards to support businesses reopening after the latest lockdown.

The campaign asks consumers to share where they have spent their local gift card, liking or following Town and City Gift Cards on Twitter or Facebook and tagging the company on their photo, to be put into a prize draw to win a £100 Town and City Gift Card of their choice.

Overall retail footfall in the UK in the week to 24th April 2021 was 80% that of the equivalent week in 2019 reports ONS. Footfall was highest in the North and Yorkshire at 90% of 2019 levels, with Scotland at 49% of its 2019 equivalent. Northern Ireland footfall saw a 6% increase in footfall between the weeks ending 17th April and 24th April, whilst Wales remained unchanged.

UK seated diner reservations on Saturday 24th April were 62% that of the equivalent Saturday in 2019, 41% in London and 83% in Manchester. Meanwhile, the NHBF found that 10% of hair, beauty and barbering businesses have closed their doors for good during the pandemic, with an average loss of 45% of 2019 turnover.

Over £80,000 of Barnsley Gift Cards were purchased in 2020. Each gift card can be spent with a variety of businesses- from retail and leisure to hospitality and services- and are designed to make it easy for customers to shop local, keeping money locked into the area and supporting businesses.

A business that has seen spend through the Barnsley Gift Card is 80s Casual Classics in Barnsley. Store manager Jamie Pursley said the gift card has helped them to reach new customers:

“We sell retro and original men’s clothing and footwear. We took the opportunity to join Barnsley Gift Card when it launched in December, and thought it was a really good idea to keep money local. Taking payment by gift card is so simple and easy, it’s just the same as any other card transaction. The customer can check their balance using the QR code, or we can check it for them.

“We’ve had quite a few sales since we reopened through the gift card with both new and existing customers taking advantage of it. Our new customers found us by looking online to see which retailers were taking part and decided to check us out. We have found the card not only allows people to use it at their favourite participating shops but encourages people to try new businesses too, with many using the gift card towards purchasing something special. Being part of the gift card scheme has already been positive for us as a business and can be great for Barnsley.”

The popularity of Town and City Gift Cards is attributed to the rise in use of multi-store gift cards and local shopping. The Gift Card and Voucher Association found that retail spend fell by 3.6% in 2020, the biggest drop in 50 years. Gift cards, however, remain popular. 76.3% have purchased a gift card in the last three years and uncertainty in UK retail has increased the popularity of multi-store gift cards, at 39.4% of gift cards in March 2021 vs. 32.4% in December 2020.

Self-gifting of gift cards is on the rise, with 31.8% purchasing a gift card for self-use over the past three years. 17.1% of gift card purchasers said supporting local businesses or the high street was a reason for them buying a gift card for themselves, increasing to 25.2% for 25-44 year olds. 19 new Town and City Gift Card programmes launched across the UK and Ireland between August and December 2020, as places sought to make local shopping easier, tapping into the desire to support local.

Chris Savage, project manager in the markets and town centre services team at Barnsley Council, said: “The Barnsley Gift Card is a fantastic way to support local businesses, but for businesses to benefit, we need gift cards to be spent. If you’ve bought or been given a Barnsley Gift Card recently, please find it, check out all of the places where you can spend your gift card and get out and enjoy spending it. It has been a tough year for businesses, and they will appreciate your custom more than you could know.”

The new Spend It campaign from Miconex is part of its client success programme, helping places to maximise success for their programmes with multi-channel marketing campaigns. Over 400 towns and cities took part in Miconex’s Great Town and City Christmas Quiz in December 2020 to find the brainiest place in Britain and encourage people to spend locally. The competition attracted over 5000 entries with Camberley in Surrey taking the top spot followed by Scottish town Elgin.

Colin Munro is the managing director of Miconex and commented: “Customers have taken the first step and purchased a local gift card, now is the time to spend it. A Town and City Gift Card is a piece of potential. The potential to support a small, independent business who has struggled through the last year. The potential to keep money locked into where you live and the potential to safeguard jobs, livelihoods and the vibrancy of where you live.

“Your local gift card can stay in your bag, wallet or in a drawer at home, or it can be turned into drinks with friends at your local, fish and chips on the seafront, a new outfit for the warmer weather to come or a long awaited haircut. Now is the time to get out and spend locally.”